It’s surely every entrepreneur’s dream to turn a passionately-pursued hobby into a successful business, writes Andrew Keddie.
And that is what keen anglers Mick Bell and Mike Roberts have achieved with the opening earlier this month of the Ettrick Valley Smokehouse in the picturesque village of Ettrickbridge near Selkirk.
The facility, offering a service aimed at adding value to salmon catches on the River Tweed system, is the latest addition to Bluemoon Fishing, the operating company which Mick and Mike launched in 2008.
“Our principal activities all relate to fishing which is something very close of our heart,” said Mick, who was formerly a director with a number of successful magazine publishers in London.
His equity partner Mike, once a production director in the lifts industry, revealed: “Our intention is to focus on the Tweed anglers for 2011 using the Ettrickbridge production facility and then enlarge the operation to smoke other foods, including venison, duck and chicken, at the same site.”
Bluemoon, which formally located to the Borders from south London in 2009, is wholly owned by Mick and Mike and operates three other angling-related companies, viz Salmonfliesuk, Bloke and Mashama, supplying specialist flies, rods and fishing hooks respectively.
“The smokehouse seemed a natural progression,” explained Mick. “We see things very much from the perspective of the angler. For many, fishing for salmon on the Tweed catchment, is in itself a dream come true. Now we are giving those visitors, and locals too, the chance to have their precious catch of salmon smoked to perfection.”
At Ettrickbridge, the fillets are air dried and placed in the smokehouse for 12 hours when they cure slowly and naturally in cold smoke produced from oak shavings sourced from Scotch whisky barrels.
After the smoking process, the pin bones are removed from the fillets which are vacuum sealed to ensure they remain fresh and succulent.
The new business offers a collection and delivery services to most beats on the middle/upper Tweed, although anglers are welcome to deliver their own fish to the smokehouse.
Fish from other rivers can also be smoked via a mail order service which can also be used by anglers who have to leave the area before the fish has been smoked. The tarriff is £22 for fish between 5-8lbs and £30 from heavier fish up to 40lbs, exclusive of next day postage.
For further information on the Ettrick Valley Smokehouse, call 01750 62320 or visit the website on www.evsh.co.uk